Indian startup developers will form an independent group, says Paytm boss

Vijay Shekhar Sharma at the Asia PE-VC Summit 2018 organised by DEALSTREETASIA

As founders’ angst against search giant Google grows, Paytm boss Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Thursday in a media briefing said that India’s technology ecosystem is looking to form an ‘independent congregation’ to fight global technology conglomerates including Google and Facebook.

“We as a group Indian startup developers group will come together to make an independent congregation,” said Sharma.

It may be noteworthy that startups have independently held several meetings and reached out to the ministry of information and technology (MeitY) raising concerns about the growing monopoly and dominance of Google on India’s technology ecosystem.

“They (Google) cannot be a single gatekeeper to the whole Indian internet ecosystem, especially when they claim to be a non-Indian entity. This is similar to the ‘salt movement’ which India fought where salt was taxed. Similarly now, Google is taxing the entire technology landscape, arbitrarily for just providing a platform,” said Sharma.

He also added that Google has become a toll collector, rather than an ecosystem enabler.

“If they are charging 30% of commissions for just providing Play Store, as a platform, they should at least offer customer care service to Indian apps,” said Sharma.

Several Indian founders, whose apps have been taken down by Google, in the past have complained about a similar problem – around no immediate grievance support being available, since Google’s Play Store team is based in the US.

“We are launching a movement today to free the internet today, which is controlled by Google. More than 95% of India’s digital users access the internet through Google. But, for what reason do we have to give Google a commission? Is it just for distribution of our apps? There’s a sword hanging on our head and they can ‘arbitrarily’ change their policies, according to their whim. This commission (or tax) is ‘atrocious’ and now we need to free the internet from the glitches of Google,” said Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder-CEO of Matrimony.com Ltd.

Janakiraman also adds that with every digital service in the country have to pay this commission, Indian digital goods will become even more expensive as startups will have to factor the 30% compulsory Google Play Store billing commission.

“This is almost like we (Matrimony) charging 30% every time a couple meets and weds through us,” said Janakiraman.

Now, founders state that this fight against Google and the big tech won’t stop until they are regulated under Indian laws.

“Earlier, we were disjointed in our approach, but now all of us have come together to fight these technology giants. No, longer can they have a ‘divide’ and rule policy since we are united. And this is not just a fight against google but also Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, which keep spreading fake news and slander. The crux of the problem is that they do npt follow the rules of India, and get away by saying that they are not regulated by Indian laws,” said Vishal Gondal, founder and CEO, GOQii, which has filed a defamation suit against Twitter, and is fighting the case in the Bombay City Civil Court.

On Thursday, to support India’s indigenous developer ecosystem, Paytm launched its 10 crore developer fund, which will work as an incubator to support Indian app-creators.

The fund will help these developers also further the reach of their mini-app ecosystem on Paytm, and will be accessible immediately, Sharma added.

“We will be ramping up our investment team for this developer fund,” said Sharma.

Sharma also alleged that Google’s Play Store billing will be routed through Google Pay, its Indian payment arm, which brings in the debate of colliding with unfair practices for ‘wilful gains’.

This article was first published on livemint.com

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.